The District of Houston’s long-term plan to improve the state of housing within its boundaries has taken another step.
And that’s council’s passing May 19 of a standards of maintenance bylaw setting out expectations and fines.
It’s to be a primary tool to be used by another part of the plan — the 50/50 sharing of a bylaw enforcement officer with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.
And it follows complaints and representations made by residents to the District regarding the current state of some accommodations and the resulting effect on neighbourhood appearances and property values.
The bylaw enforcement officer and now the bylaw also fit the District’s overall attempts to make Houston more attractive and appealing and attractive to investors and new residents.
Previously, bylaw enforcement came under the auspices of the District’s fire chief but that was considered a task requiring the services of a separate employee who could devote more time to enforcement and education.
The standards of maintenance bylaw authorizes an inspector to “enter on or into any real property or premises to ascertain whether the regulations and requirements of this bylaw are being observed.”
Building owners are required to maintain exterior walls in good repair, ensuring they are weather-tight, free from unsecured objects and materials and “maintained in a manner to prevent or retard deterioration due to weather an infestations.”
The same requirements are in place for exterior doors, windows, skylights and hatchways.
Roofing must be maintained to prevent water leaks and an exterior wall openings protected to prevent the entry of rodents, insects or vermin.
The BC Fire Code also comes in play in that fire escapes, stairways, balconies, porches and landings must be in good condition.
Basements must also be kept dry through prevention of cracks and having floor drains in good condition.
All aspects of electrical wiring, fuses, etc. must be in good working order.
Those renting accommodation must ensure floors are “maintained in a clean condition, reasonably smooth and level, and free of loose, warped or decayed boards.”
There can be no holes in structural members or loose or broken plaster.
All plumbing, including drains and vents, must be in good working order.
There must also be an adequate supply of hot and cold running water and toilets must function well.
There are 27 contravention categories in which tickets can be written at a fine cost of $150. But obstructing an inspector could cost $1,000.